Coffee giant Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) is trying to learn if it can go without its iconic image.
The chain — in response to the rise in popularity of indie coffee shops — has launched a series of stores without its trademark Starbucks brand attached, The Financial Times reports.
Independent and small chain coffee shops have been growing in popularity. What they may lack in amenities, they gain in their personal knowledge of the customers and an edgy, newer presentation. In New York City, for example, 57% of coffee shops — 972 out of 1700 — aren’t associated with a large chain.
This leads the large chains to try to fill that void. By launching some stores in the U.K. without its traditional wide spaces and convenient tables, Starbucks is hoping to lure some of the indie-seeking market back to its shops.
Still, it’s more than presentation that counts. Industry analyst George Scott says that, unless the firm really commits to the indie scene, customers won’t buy in. “A proper local coffee shop will know your name and usual coffee order. If they actually have to ask your name, then it’s just very superficial,” Scott says.